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Full text of "My Country And My People"

288         MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

the spacing is correct, even mere symmetry of form may be
sacrificed, as may be seen in Yii Yujen's writing to-day. It
does not matter in Chinese writing if the contour of the
character is unsymmetrical, but incorrect spacing is an un-
forgivable offence, which is the surest sign of immature
craftsmanship.

And one recognizes further in the simple unity of design of
Chinese paintings the controlling rhythm of the brush, called
fyi. Ti means the "conception9* in the artist's mind. To make
a Chinese drawing is but to "write out a conception/5 ksiehyi.
Before one puts the brush on the paper, the artist has a definite
conception in his mind; then as he draws along, he is only
writing out that conception through certain strokes; he brooks
no interference of irrelevancies, and adds a twig here or a
blade there to preserve the organic rhythm; and when he has
expressed the essential conception in his mind, he leaves off.
For that reason, the picture lives because the conception
behind it lives. It is like reading a good epigram; the words
end, but the flavour remains. The Chinese artists express
this technique by saying that "the conception precedes the
brush, and when the brush has done its work, the conception
still remains,'* For the Chinese are consummate masters in
suggestion and "leaving off at the right moment." They like
good tea and olives which give a "back-flavour," hweiwei,
which is not felt until a few minutes after eating the olive or
drinking the good tea. The total effect of this technique in
painting is a quality called Kungling, "empty-and-alive," which
means extreme vitality coupled with economy of design.

Chinese poetry gives Chinese painting its spirit. As stated
already in the discussion on poetry, it more often happens in
China than in the West that the poet is a painter, and the
painter, poet. Poetry and painting come from the same human
spirit, and it is natural that the spirit and inner technique of
bath should be the same. We have seen how painting in-
fluenced poetry in perspective, because the poet's eye is the
painter's eye. But we shall also see how the painter's spirit is
the poet's spirit, how the painter shows the same impression,
the same method of suggestion, the same emphasis on an in-
definable atmosphere, and the same pantheistic union with